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The Tribes

The Silliest Job Titles Of The Digital Era

Are you working with a ninja, guru or alchemist? MR PORTER on the occupations that your careers advisor didn’t see coming

It used to be pretty straightforward. Back in the days when Mr Mark Zuckerberg was still dreaming about his bar mitzvah, if you wanted a job, you would do something like this: polish your CV, send it to the company you wanted to work for, along with a brief letter introducing yourself and emphasising your love of teamwork, then hope that they asked you to come in for an interview. If they did and if you managed to impress them enough then – congratulations! – you had a job. This job would come with its own title – “sales assistant”, say, or “janitor” – which concisely described your function to anyone who needed to know. If, down the line, you won a promotion, then your job title would have words such as “senior” or “executive” added to it. It was rudimentary, but it worked.

But now? Now things are different. You may have already spotted this, observing how, over the past five years or so, your office has seen a steady influx of mysterious millennials boasting job titles that are, well… totally made up. You can tell they’re totally made up because they often contain words such as “ninja”, “guru” or “alchemist” and shed absolutely no light on what it is they actually do. And it turns out that a lot of these 24-year-olds style themselves as CEOs or MDs, albeit of a company with a workforce of precisely one.

If you work for an advertising agency or start-up, then these guys (and they are almost always guys) will be everywhere, showering you with TLAs (three letter acronyms, duh) and chugging Soylent. Even if you work for a grand old firm, there’s every chance that the suits on the 14th floor are so terrified of the future that they’ve panic-hired a whole platoon of self-styled “digital natives” to serve as “content druids” or something. And while some are undoubtedly the kind of quietly visionary genii destined to appear on the cover of Forbes in a pair of flip-flops, you can be just as sure that even more are simply serving as the Emperor’s New Creatives: unaccountable charlatans who’ll while the week away playing Minecraft and blowing (metaphorical) bubblegum.

But who are they? And what do they want? With the help of MR PORTER’s guide to the New Creative Tribes, perhaps these questions can finally be answered.

CHIEF TWEEPLE HERDER

This is your company’s one-person social media team, the 21-year-old who has been handed the passwords to all the corporate Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts on the promise that they can quadruple the number of followers. Which sounds great until you notice that the blue-chip financial services company you work for is tweeting... gifs of Mr Donald Trump’s hair... and is that… is that a Skyrim meme? Why are we sending wink emojis to The Wall Street Journal? Who is this person? That’s a very good question, because while the chief tweeple herder is absolutely everywhere online, spreading saccharine millennial cheer across all your timelines, nobody seems to have any idea who they are in real life. It’s only after a few months that you start to suspect that it’s the quiet, pale, neurotic-looking guy who sits in the corner with three smartphones and a Grumpy Cat T-shirt. Oh God, it’s him, isn’t it?

DIRECTOR, FUTURE-PROOFING

Somebody who can confidently predict what tomorrow will look like will never be out of work – and this chap knows it. His entire career is founded on walking round your office with some ashen-faced suits from upstairs and explaining why things such as desks and chairs and computers and paper and people over 37 have absolutely no future in the workplace of tomorrow. This is why he walks around wearing a Google Glass and drawing up elaborate plans to convert your totally fine office into something that’s one part Tron, one part Chuck E Cheese. He’s the guy who sends a hologram of himself to board meetings so he can insist that the company’s nanotech budget be increased 10,000 per cent. It’s not clear what he’s ever achieved, other than replacing that A3 printer with an air hockey table, but everyone’s too afraid of what will happen if they get rid of him. Here’s a clue: nothing.

BUZZ HUSSAR

In days of yore, you may have aspired to become a marketing executive, but that was then. Now? Now you’re officially a buzz hussar, purely because the CEO of the start-up you’ve just joined is obsessed with playing Napoleon: Total War and worth about $15m, so yeah, you tell him you think it’s a stupid name if you really want to. It makes work chat virtually impossible on dates and, although you tried to hide your business cards from your dad, he accidentally found one and hyperventilated with laughter, so now your life isn’t really worth living. If you get a promotion, they make you have one of those twirly moustache tattoos on your finger.

LEVEL-FIVE DISRUPTOR

The company you work for used to have a digital strategy based on careful forward planning, in-depth analysis of the various pieces of analytic data you have judiciously cultivated and close co-operation with your clients. Only then someone in HR started reading the Wired website and now you’ve been sent a memo saying that, henceforth, you are all “disruptors” and your sole role is to disrupt your industry as much as possible. They didn’t give you much information beyond that. It was around this time that they hired some kid on an eye-watering consultancy day rate to serve as a self-styled “disruption demon”. Apparently, he’s so good at disrupting things that not one of his 26 start-ups lasted more than three weeks. “Nobody fails well better than me,” he once bragged in a meeting. Your boss nodded along eagerly. You just can’t buy that kind of talent.

O-M-G-NIUS

Yeah, you heard him. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has been endorsed for a range of skills, including “ecoLOLogist” (producing viral videos of endangered animals lip-syncing to One Direction), “caffeine commando” (making coffee while working as an intern) and “creative enabler without portfolio” (more coffee making). He keeps popping up in your chat window while you’re trying to work, saying he’s bored and inviting you to play FarmVille. You think he’s about 19. At some point, he will offer to make you a cup of coffee and it’s actually very good. You endorse him on LinkedIn.